Happy Meal lawsuit, cont’d

by Walter Olson on December 17, 2010

My New York Daily News opinion piece stirred up a whole lot of discussion: at Megan McArdle/The Atlantic, Hans Bader/CEI, Mike Riggs/Daily Caller “TheDC Morning”, Outside the Beltway, Radley Balko, AllahPundit/Hot Air, Never Yet Melted, Modeled Behavior, Above the Law, Twitter mentions, John Hayward/Human Events, Jammie Wearing Fool, Andrew Stuttaford/NRO “Corner”, Amy Alkon, Chris Robinette/TortsProf, Ira Stoll/Future of Capitalism, Tom Kirkendall, John Steele Gordon/Commentary, and my own write-up at Cato at Liberty.

Also: Check out the further information Ira Stoll has developed at his site about the meals San Francisco serves at its own schools, which seem to compare not at all favorably with the meals the city’s council has seen fit to ban.

Remember, this isn’t a once-every-so-often treat provided at parental discretion, like a Happy Meal — this is the food the state is serving for lunch in the essentially compulsory government schools. The fact that it’s McDonald’s rather than the government schools that are getting sued by this parent and advocacy group gives away what the lawsuit is really about. It’s not really about food, or calories — it’s about an attempt to increase the power of the state over private enterprise by restricting the power of the private enterprise to market its product. The suit isn’t about the “meal,” it’s about the “happy.”

More on the nutritional background: Patrick Basham and John Luik, “A Happy Meal Ban Is Nothing to Smile About”, Spiked Online; David Oliver. On the legal: Russell Jackson. And welcome listeners of Lars Larson’s Portland, Ore.-based radio show, which welcomed me as a guest to discuss the case Dec. 17.

{ 3 trackbacks }

McDonald’s sued over Happy Meals
12.17.10 at 9:57 am
REST OF THE STORY: Anti-Happy Meal ‘Mom’ Is Also a Big Gov’t Bureaucrat |
12.20.10 at 1:15 pm
Moonbattery
12.21.10 at 2:33 pm

{ 4 comments }

1 Frank 12.17.10 at 10:26 am

The bashan Luik article reads well – until we get to “And multiple studies have failed to find a link in children between physical activity levels, food intake and obesity.”

So, unlike in mature human beings (and animals), there is no link between calories taken in, calories burned and excess weight?

The article goes on to say near the conclusion that ‘100 years ago todays penchant for thin children would have been seen as child abuse’ (paraphrased).

The authors perhaps should be aware that 100 years ago ‘health’ tobacco cigarettes were advertised and recommended for small children suffering from respiratory ailments.

2 Chris 12.17.10 at 10:38 am

In my state, the state has enacted all sorts of debtor protection laws that make it difficult for creditors to collect on money owed. Not impossible, but there are quite a few hoops they must jump though to get a court to enforce a contract. On the other hand, there are draconian penalties and enforcement procedures for things like traffic tickets and parking tickets. I was reminded of this double standard when I was reading about what the SF public schools serve.

3 Beagles 12.20.10 at 12:53 pm

McDonald’s needs to sue CSPI. They can do it on two fronts. One, malicious suit filing, and/or defemation as they have no proof of their claims. Two, fraud. They can use CSPI’s own arguments against them. Just as “McDonald’s” lures children into their stores, and a lifetime of obeseity with toys, CPSI lures the media others with their instituions name. Anyone not doing their homework assumes they have conducted scientific research when they haven’t.

4 William Nuesslein 12.22.10 at 3:45 am

Frank above asserts that the relationships between calories in, calories burned and excess weight are obvious. They were to me when I was young. Then I found that 80% of calories consumed by mammals are used to regulate body temperature. That makes the mechanical work done by the body the tail on the dog. Sandy Szwarc at http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/ has done great work on obeseity. She separates self-serving PR from data very well.

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